The Week In Weird TV: Nazi Megastructures And Gordon Ramsey's Face

The only thing stranger than crackpot Nazi plans to build an Atlantic wall this week was the sight of Gordon Ramsey being 'nice'.
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The only thing stranger than crackpot Nazi plans to build an Atlantic wall this week was the sight of Gordon Ramsey being 'nice'.

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Those ruddy Nazis. Just when you think they can’t get any worse you find out they built sodding megastructures. Is there no end to the evil? I mean, I knew they were bad, but this takes the biscuit.

And that’s really the selling point of all programmes like Nazi Megastructures: stick ‘Nazi’ in front of any word and bingo, you’ve got yourself a late night schedule filler. Perhaps next week we’ll get ‘Nazi Topiary’ or ‘Nazi Grouting.’

It’s just all a bit cynical and lazy. The commissioners have thought, “right, what more can we squeeze out of that Nazi sponge – full of all our fears and hatred – that we could make into a passable historical documentary?”

And so to compensate for lack of substance the music sounded like Götterdämmerung piped through the speakers of the Ministry of Sound, making it feel like Hitler himself might jump out of the telly at any moment and poke you in the eye. Me thinks the music doth crescendo too much. Whenever you hear crashing percussion at the very beginning of a programme, you know that by the end all you will feel is crashing boredom.

The voice-over man sounded like a local radio presenter forced to do the commentary for some natural disaster. Like a devastating famine presented by Smashie and Nicey. Mr Vocie-over also seemed to have come down with a terminal case of the hyperboles. Everything was the –est of everything else, in the world, ever.  Understatement can often be a lot more powerful than exaggeration, something the British used to be very good at – see the late sports presenter David Coleman.

The first episode was, ostensibly, about the ‘Atlantic Wall.’ A 5000km defence around the coast of Europe from Norway to Spain. Sounds very impressive. Except the programme wasn’t really about the wall at all because it never really existed. The Nazis managed to complete less than half of it because it was never possible to complete the whole of it in the first place. But madness, ambition and sheer stupidity have never been qualities lacking in thugs.

Thankfully, the allies were able to capitalise and launch the most important invasion in history. And that’s no exaggeration. Hitler then forced Rommel, his best general, to commit suicide not long after. What is it with megalomaniacs and killing their best generals? Someone should tell them. Actually, best not.

One structure that even the Nazis couldn’t have dreamed up is Gordon Ramsay’s face. His skin is so craggy that Graham Linehan is rumoured to setting his new sitcom there. The crevasse under his chin is so deep that there is probably one of those uncontacted tribes living in it, completely unaware of the outside world, with a god who – to their theological dismay - keeps calling them “fucking twats.”

At least that was the case until I saw his new programme Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking, in which his face and persona had become strangely softened. I used to been a fan of Gordon Ramsay – watching him spray mucus-flecked invective into the faces of overweight Frenchman was simply good television. This, on the other hand, is not.

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This programme felt like Nigella Lawson had done a Halloween special dressed up as Gordon Ramsay. It’s all filmed from his lovely house, with his lovely children making lovely food. Everything is “lovely” or “lavish” or “indulgent” (or plagiarism).

This is not the Gordon we know and love. It’s like watching Usain Bolt run the 100 metres with the legs of Alexa Chung – deeply upsetting. The programme makers have removed the very thing that was watchable and compelling about Ramsay and replaced it with the fluff from Nigella Lawson’s tummy button.

And Gordon just isn’t very comfortable doing this kind of thing. He stands there attempting to re-arrange his face into a smile but only manages a look of deep unease – as if someone has told him that the tribe living in his face had just invented gun powder.

Gordon is obviously trying a re-brand from angry to cuddly, but like New Coke in the 80s no one is going to like it. But perhaps there is a twist to come. Perhaps in the next episode one of his children will carelessly drop a spatula, causing him to go so ape that he starts screaming in their face. We can only hope.